WHAT EXACTLY IS THE CASTE EQUATION IN THE REGION?
Dalits constitute about 32% of Punjab population, the highest among all states in the country. Most of the Dalit (Scheduled Castes) population is concentrated in the Doaba region, taking the community’s percentage here to around 45%.
Of the 117 constituencies, the region sends 23 representatives to the state assembly and vote share of the Dalit community in these segments ranges from 30% to 50%. The Dalits mainly are divided into two communities — the Ravidassias, followers of Guru Ravidass and the Balmikis.
The Ravidassias dominate the region, statistically speaking. Such is the dominance of the Dalit community that the Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar Lok Sabha segments covering most of Doaba are reserved for SCS. activities.
Since the region has witnessed various Dalit movements, including the Dalit resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s after which the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was formed, the community members here are not afraid of taking the other sections head-on.
“It’s an assertion of the Dalit identity. Earlier, when any act of outrage and highhandedness happened, Dalits used to lie low. But with an increasing awareness and spread of education, the Dalits are more united than before,” says Ram Lal Jassi, a Dalit leader. replaced the scripture with ‘Amrit Bani: Satguru Ravidass Granth’ and founded the new religion ‘Ravidassia Dharam’.
This is seen as a major event in the breaking away of Dalits from the fold of Hinduism and Sikhism.